Musical Pointers

Acquired to complement my Skalkottas collection, this taken as a whole proves an excellent solo violin recital. It puts Paganini into a future context and brings Skalkottas into close relationship with Bartok, whose solo sonata is well established in the repertoire.

Nikos Skalkottas was a concert class violinist and an important Schoenberg pupil. This early but important sonata preceded that phase.

He had already developed his characteristic “multiple series in advanced tonality” method, as opposed to Schoenberg’s “solid serial system” (GZ). Introducing his ‘fractal’ compositional technique, and a clever solution to the problem of multi-voicing for solo violin, it is an important creation, receiving a full analysis by the player, who is completing research on Skalkottas’ violin concerto for his PhD. The sonata remained the composer’s only surviving work for a solo instrument other than piano.

The Paganini choices are unusual ones, and confirm this player’s credentials as a top class virtuoso. They are more enjoyable in mixed company, and the last of Ysaye’s six (all composed at white-heat in a single week !) is a proper companion. The Bartok sonata gives the recital a solid centre, and the whole is very satisfying. Presentation is thorough and the cover art features the Ceruti violin lent to George Zacharias by London’s Royal Academy of Music.

—Peter Grahame Woolf